So cold-calling prospective clients and entering data on a spreadsheet is really not what you want to be doing out of college. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to bring the same level of energy and enthusiasm to this role that you would if it were your dream job.
Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at recruitment software Jobvite, says that this is one of the most important mind-sets to have when you’re starting any job. “Part of it is that, even if you know that you don’t have your dream job, you’ve accepted it. Go into it as if it’s your dream job. People can tell if you want to be there. You never know what you’re going to learn.”
Bitte herself started out working as a receptionist in a consulting firm before working in HR after spending four years studying international relations. But a coveted internship at the United Nations showed her that the nonprofit world wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and she decided she would be better off working in private corporations. Her receptionist role led to an office manager gig for a PR firm, where she was involved in company admin, as well as HR and finance. She ended up tackling more and more HR projects, began taking night classes taught by professionals in the industry and eventually landed a recruiting job at Apple through her instructor.
2. TAKE ON CHALLENGING PROJECTS
Part of bringing your full passionate self to work is to look for opportunities where you can take charge and be of value. Bitte says that the beauty of having an entry-level job that’s not in your desired field is that you’ve got nothing to lose. “You can take a risk. Look for projects that are really meaty that some people might shy away from.”Daniel Ospina, an organizational design specialist who started his career as a chef, echoed this sentiment. “Instead of focusing on the industry or the job title, focus on the problem that you want to solve and look for insights from a variety of sources. Most problems these days are best approached with a multidisciplinary perspective. Coming at them from a different angle can be quite valuable in the market.”Everyone likes a self-starter. Many skills, like communication and project-management, are also relevant to almost every industry. Having a few successful projects under your belt can only benefit you when you go for your next interview, particularly if there is a way of quantifying your success.
3. MAKE AN EFFORT TO NETWORK WITH YOUR COWORKERS
You’ve probably heard this advice many times before, and we know, it’s extremely tempting to give this the old eye-roll. But this is a crucial thing to do when you want to remain on the lookout for new opportunities.“I think networking is absolutely critical.” Bitte says. “You just never know who’s connected to what in your network.” You might find, for example, that the account coordinator you had lunch with yesterday knows a recruiter at a company you’re dying to work at. Or that the CEO’s assistant is related to the project manager of the contract position that just opened up–which you’re considering putting in an application for.Or they might just have connections to people who work in the industry you want to get into, and that’s valuable in itself. Rebecca Zucker, a partner in leadership development consultancy Next Step Partners, previously told Fast Company that this is a great way to find out exactly what you can do to bring yourself closer to where you want to be. You might think you know what skills you need for that wish-list job, but it’s much smarter to go and ask someone who’s currently there.
4. START A SIDE PROJECT RELATED TO YOUR DESIRED INDUSTRY
Just because you’re not working in your desired industry doesn’t mean you can’t develop your expertise in it. Ospina suggests trying to gain experience while you’re still in the job (that way, you can still pay your bills while you make yourself a more attractive candidate for your dream job). “These exploratory projects can be organizing a community of interest, hosting themed dinners, creating small conferences, or interviewing people in the industry for a podcast or blog. By providing value to others (for example, through exposure or simply a nice meal) you can grow your network. Over time, that which you have given others will serve you the most.”